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Some times of year it is easier to find inspiration than others. Here in New England the faire season is pretty much over but as soon as the snow stops blowing (and we’ve done gigs in blowing snow) you can bet that every person who can will be fleeing cabin fever and racing out in shorts when it hits 40 degrees. It’s easy to be inspired when the sun is shining and the events are happening. It’s more difficult to be thinking about new and amazing when Holiday food, staying indoors, snuggies and Netflix are producing a siren song. Here are some of the ways I choose to get inspired so that when Spring debuts, so does Phoenix Swords

We practice all winter. It is a slog and we will cancel practices if it is dangerous to travel or a consensus of members will not be attending (Christmas and New Year’s Eve for example)  Two weeks off is no big deal but a month impacts how nimble (mentally and physically) performers become. I like to point out what we call “Performance Math” –that is, you can take time off but it will take a LOT more effort to be up to speed when it is time to practice for an actual performance. In March we work the Gulf Coast Renaissance Faire  and six weeks out from that is the second week of January. I like to have six weeks to perfect a fight rather than write, tweak and then try to catch up to everything else.  Also, when you have time to goof around and take things slowly, your brain has more free time to wander and discover. Your muscles will also remember if you have not run around or held a sword in months.

Play, this is so undervalued in adults.  Time and again studies show that learning new skills, doing puzzles, playing music and even juggling will mentally stimulate adults. I’m not sure why  it has to be repeated again and again. Kids are a tremendous inspiration, I find their clarity that having fun and trying something now is a good kick in the keister for me. I work with young adults and sometimes some of the questions they ask make the top of my head shoot off with new ideas.  Most folks become involved with faires because the they  still love to pretend. I think shutting off this resource is a shame.

Reading and absorbing other media, for instance; art, or music.  My co-owner and I go to performances of all types and for the children’s skits, we read world folklore-we encourage troupe members to do the same.  If a troupe member tells me that they want to write a skit we do it-that’s how we ended up with Ilya of Murom,  The Firebird,  Nazrudin and Fox and Cat.  It not only personalizes performances and teaches new skills, but add investment to how we run the troupe.

Letting the mind wander. I can’t speak for anyone else but I like to just be open to experiences, let them wash over me and compost a while.  While watching a British detect show I saw a faire on the common and thought about what the show makers had done to give a character to the episode and why it made me be interested-what props did they use to draw in the viewer? What didn’t I “get” as an American and what was just plain interesting?  And making a purchase at a local store-I wandered the aisles and asked for red and green bottles for a new fuel we are trying out for shows-and that led me to thinking about how to compact and carry fire equipment. I was reading a fire forum and there is a toy I have only seen once before it disappeared and I not only want to replicate it but watching a Balinese dancer with fans back in November gave me an idea about how a bad staff spinner (me) could find ways around my skill to  make that movement interesting with that new toy.

So in short, what I am saying here is if you have not changed your act in years, I have no idea how you keep from being bored by it and translate that to your audience.  Be open to all the really interesting things around you and give it back to your audience as something  fresh and important to you.

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